Gran tells of her war hero

PUBLISHED: 12:08 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:11 06 May 2010

Private Lionel O'Connor

Private Lionel O'Connor

A GRANDMOTHER has opened her heart about her war hero grandson who lost a leg in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq. Francess Walker, 61, of Rockingham Way, Stevenage, spoke to The Comet about Private Lionel O Connor, 21, who was injured in the explosion –

A GRANDMOTHER has opened her heart about her "war hero" grandson who lost a leg in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq.

Francess Walker, 61, of Rockingham Way, Stevenage, spoke to The Comet about Private Lionel O'Connor, 21, who was injured in the explosion - which also killed two soldiers - in the southern city of Basra on Saturday.

Pte O'Connor grew up in Kempton Park, South Africa, but has a British passport as his mother Sonia was born in this country.

He came to live in Stevenage in August 2000, and went to Barclay School to finish his education.

His girlfriend Vicky still lives in the town.

Ms Walker said she found out about the explosion on Sunday morning when her daughter and son-in-law, also called Lionel, came to tell her the sad news.

"I can't even think what my daughter and son-in-law feel. My son-in-law just broke down," she said.

Pte O'Connor's parents have subsequently managed to speak to the soldier.

"He was heavily sedated but they know he's still alive which is the main thing," Ms Walker said.

Pte O'Connor was due to fly into Birmingham yesterday (Wednesday).

His mother and Vicky were due to go and see him.

Ms Walker said that she was not sure how much her grandson had been told about the nature of his injuries.

"I don't even know if they've told him he's lost his leg. It's hard to say how somebody else is going to react, how they're going to feel.

"How's it going to affect him the rest of his life?" she said.

Pte O'Connor joined the Army just last year and was sent to Iraq a month ago with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

"He wanted to join the Army to learn a trade and he loses a leg for it," Ms Walker said.

She described her grandson as "very pleasant, very calm".

She added: "He's sort of quiet. It would take a lot to upset him but if you do upset him he'll let you know.

"It takes a lot to wind him up. He's a good boy, he's well mannered.

"To me he's a war hero. Twenty-one years old and he's lost a leg.


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